raising the kids, caring about the needsnof a husband, that she would not havenhad time to be bored. Or a reader mightnreflect that, given that the character is son•’ •MtKli-ni ISiiptisls’l is|suu-|lin^ alivi-… Mr, \ik()xis;i\TittTUim;iki.-iis;illH-dht)ixinl.”nXi’ir Vorfe Times BtH)k Kei’Uivnfar gone that her frustrated husbandnmight do what many modem husbandsndo, file for divorce and custody of thenchildren, a judge would almost invariably,nwithout weighing the merits of the case,naward custody of the children to the incompetentnmother, thus a^ravating thenproblems of all concerned.nXour of the stories are about race relationsnin the New South. Here again, thenfacets are as alluring as the plots themselves.n”Going Ahead” presents youngnTad and Grandpa, two rural Southernersndriving into town to see Santa Glaus. Integrationnis still recent, and in the imaginationnof many of the older generationnof whites there is danger of violence fromnthe blacks. In Grandpa the real dilemmanof integration is crystallized, the ambivalencenof the Southern white toward hisnblack neighbors. He is not a “rednecknnigger-hater.” Grandson Tad points out,n”You’ve sat next to Negroes before”;nGrandpa has often sat beside the fieldnhands in trucks and broken open watermelonsnin the field and eaten with them.nBut he cannot cope with the situationnwhen a black sits down on the stool nextnto him at a lunch counter. Like so manynold-timers. Grandpa feels a sense of noblessenoblige toward “his” Negroes, but, innhis view, they “know their place.” As hentells his grandson, “They’ve never set tonthe table with me.” He is irrevocably setnin his patterned beliefs. The same responsenholds true for the black Jesse, innthe story of that name. Jesse suffers thenpoverty and fioistration typical of so manynSouthern sharecroppers, white and black.nYet, when he is given the broad opportunitynto escape the grinding existencenand move into the world of regular labornand regular pay, he simply cannot breaknhis old patterns of behavior, howevernfutile, which tie him to the seasonalnrhythms of farming.nTwo of the stories, “The Morning andnthe Evening” and “The Sound of Silence,”nare about Jake, that most Southern ofngrotesques, the community half-wit SincenWilliams is hailed as the protegee ofnWilliam Faulkner, it is inevitable that ancomparison be drawn between Williams’snJake and Faulkner’s Benjy. Repellent innsome ways, both these mentally retardedncreatures are still sympathetic, althoughnit would be a mistake to use the abusednterm “compassionate” to describenWilliams’s presentation. Her carefullyncrafted prose is too objective to hint ofnsentimentality. And yet the reader is enthralled;nlike Coleridge’s Wedding Guest,nSeriomttu’ssnRotablesnWitli llii-iHAcI TIH-I’lihcdnihlcl.iahlnivsnriflScinti (1 l;ir|X.T tS: Kow. New York),nMr. M jl:ui Kundcra. :i noteil (//.i-ch iiiilhor.ni:stahlislu’s hiniselt’LLS a ()ki’ uf lilLTurynseriou.snc-ss. so rare: amidsi ilic din ofnM-ini:id(ili-sci’nl nieriMiiri.sl!. who. thesendays, iiia.ssicly pi-diUc llicir graphoinaiiiacnI’xploils us liction. Firsl of :ill. .Mr.nKiiiider:i pri-senls the render with ;inninrclli-c’liinlly tlif-i’sti-tl .siihsi;inci—-:inniincrri’lalion In’twct’ii ilu- wrilk-n wordnanil Ihc kiiowlcilj^c of reality: it w;i.s oncencalii’d the writer’s vision aiul w;is preilie.ilednon his or lier moral anil emotionalnrir.sponsihilily. Me thi-n j^ives il :i form—anfree-Ill)winj; narralive that strips lo thenbare lioiic the best eleiiienLs of ticlion:nllioiijjit. introsiX’Clioii. relleetion. wisdom,nnarrative digression into malli-rs ofnphilosophy anil history, ei)j>nitie explanalions.nthe sophlslieateil siiivinctnessofne.Kpression anil de.siription. .Marveloiislynrich, glilterinji siniplieily. pregnanl withnmeaning and precision, reigns supreme.nMr. Kiiniiera’s siibjeil is male anil lemalenviilnerabililv (each in .siihlh delineatednnnhe “cannot choose but hear,” and ultimatelynbe touched.nMany of the Southern greats seemnnaturally possessed of the magical essencenof language, the primal incantatorynquality so characteristic of Faulkner andnso uncontrolled in Thomas Wolfe, whichnenchants the reader (originally, listener)nby its sonorous rhythms as much as bynits meaning. Williams’s prose is restrainednand more consciously artistic. It is spare,nwith the precise word or phrase tonevoke the desired image or sound ornsmell in the mind of the reader. In onlyntwo of the stories does her deftness falter:nin one story her lean prose becomes anbit too meager, and another, the shortestnof the collection, has the aitificial neatnessnof O. Henry at his worst. But thenbalance of Pariah more than makes upnfor any lapses in this talented woman’snstorytelling. Dnand inilividiiuli/ed silualions) as eastniigain.si the modern qiiotidijn reality ofntheeonri-mporary eiiltiire in liirope. ThenI’.iiropi-an aeliialily of hot h the eomrniinislnerneifixion of ri-a.si)n ami dignity,nas well as of ihi’ Western lairopean laeililationnof decay are defth interwoven intonmuch more delicate mailers of humanntraill’ and feikli’.ssnessthan thoseknounnhy mosi people from iheir dail’ i-xperienee.nllompared to Mr. KiiniliTa’s si-nsiliilynand f.iirness in judging man.nwoman, epoch, and the u])daieil Iniitiannnature, most of our minions of literarynreviewers ;uiil erilies look i-ither like talkshownblal)bers. embarrassingly inloxieatednpiih-eoiinter raconteurs, or cheapnconfessors of deeply iniernali/ednhanalilies.nmm^mZSnJuly 1984n